According to the LA Times the number of Measles cases rose to approximately 149 patients across eight states, Canada and Mexico. The once almost completely eradicated disease has recently made a significant come back and lack of vaccinations is said to be one of the main causes. The outbreak, which was linked to Disneyland, has been a wake up call for many parents.
The measles virus is highly contagious and is spread through droplet transmission from the nose, throat, and mouth of someone who is infected with the virus. Droplets are sprayed out when the infected person coughs or sneezes. Among unimmunized people exposed to the virus, over 90% will contract the disease. The infected person is highly contagious for four days before the rash appears until four days after the rash appears. The measles virus can remain in the air (and still be able to cause disease) for up to two hours after an infected person has left a room.
Anyone who has had measles is believed to be immune for life. People who have received two doses of vaccine after their first birthday have a 98% likelihood of being immune. Infants receive some immunity from their mother. Unfortunately, this immunity is not complete, and infants are at increased risk for infection until they receive the vaccination at 12 to 15 months of age. http://www.medicinenet.com/measles_rubeola/page2.htm
In recent years a number of parents have elected not to have children vaccinated due to the belief that some vaccinations may cause other illnesses. However, there is no clear data that supports that theory. Parents are also able to obtain exemptions on the grounds that the inoculations go against their beliefs.
So far there are 123 cases in California. Two of the latest patients were infants less than one year old, according to the California Department of Public Health. That brings to 16 the number of infants diagnosed with measles in the outbreak.
Federal recommendations call for the first dose of measles vaccination, known as MMR, to be given at 12 to 15 months of age, with a second dose between ages 4 and 6. California law requires two doses of the measles vaccination before kindergartners can enroll in school.
In recent years the percentage of children being vaccinated has decreased significantly. Although there are strong arguments on both sides of the subject of mandatory vaccinations for children, illnesses such as Measles, Polio and Meningitis can be fatal for those with compromised immune systems. Children with Asthma, Cancers, and heart conditions are especially at risk. When it comes to protecting children against these debilitating diseases, parents must make informed and careful choices which will ultimately impact millions of children.